The Joys and Pains of Writing a Degree Paper

Writing a degree paper is the greatest thing a student could ask for. This is what I realized after the first comprehensive research I did so far. Who would not enjoy countless days of thinking what to write about then researching on related studies. Then there’s sleepless nights of editing your own paper while trying hard not to commit theft of ideas. Also, who would not enjoy calling, e-mailing and personally going to almost every hospital in Manila only to find out weeks later that they cannot grant your request? That was quite an adventure. Who would not be fond of submitting your paper to your thesis adviser, proud enough to produce a thousand words, but getting it back looking like a coloring book, only with red ink. All these while trying hard not to give in to temptations of fun social networking which takes away our focus. Can a student ask for more?

Because of being too preoccupied with finishing my research, it even came to a point where I forgot I was also human. I put aside other important things such as my basic needs- eating, sleeping, then leaving my student assistant (S.A.) hours to twenty out of a hundred. I even got a sickness I never heard of before, all because of excessive thesis-enhanced cortisol. Moreover, aside from our own personal preferences such as working styles, one must also compromise with whoever she is working with- a thesis partner. There were times where what made it hard was when stress came up not only from the research itself but because of arguments of two people working on the same thing. But of course in the end, we remember we both only want to produce a decent paper.

Sarcasm aside and contrary to popular belief, there is also happiness in thesis writing. Personally, it was the data gathering process that was not only fulfilling but also a heart-warming experience for me. It was the first time I interacted with medical patients, not mental patients, and it has been great. I was happy about it because in 9 meetings, I was able to not only learn what they were going through as stroke patients, but I also felt a sense of disclosure from them in the course of the interview and some even remained as my friends. Sometimes after the administration of tests and interview, we would just stay in the clinic or at their home to simply hang out and they would joke around, keeping things light. I was very happy to know that that was already enjoyable for them that it was even them who thanked us for the interview and for keeping them company. Though that was not always the case.

There was one particular session where I doubted pursuing psychology. A patient showed an unexpected response to our last activity, which was not even included in the study. He insulted the test, laughed at the activity and even gave snide remarks about it. This response triggered a lot of questions for me for a while. It seems that there are really a lot of people who look down on psychology as a science and might even take it as a joke. Aside from that, what made me question my course was upon learning that medical (physical therapy) interns already obtain a psychosocial evaluation of the patients. That made me ask myself, what else can we offer? Can Psychology really help people or are there already other fields doing the job for us? This were just some insights I had because of that particular session. Then I remembered this was not the first time I encountered such a response. People kept on, and maybe will keep on questioning psychology or look down on it as a profession. I also think there will always be people who will ask the most vital query of all upon knowing you’re a psychology major, “Nasa-psych mo ba ako ngayon?” or “Can you read my mind?”. Yeah we get that a lot, don’t we, psych majors? But still, despite all connotations on my chosen field of interest, here I am, still open and very much interested in different reactions of people to different matters. Believe it or not, I enjoyed all these. Especially because during the latter part of the study, the patients considered us as their friends. Some of them joked a lot about how they did in the test asking, “Ano pasado ba? O may tama?”, and all of us would just laugh and I emphasized that it’s not like that. All of them thanked me and my partner, sharing that we were actually able to help them by developing an awareness of what they were feeling and also by keeping them company for a while which was for them a few hours of preventing loneliness. With that, I already felt a hint of accomplishment. I got close most especially with the patient who challenged my view on Psychology. I even called him an hour before our final defense to ask him how he was and also update him that we were about to present. I would never forget what I learned from him during our first meeting which he repeated all throughout the study. He said that a person needs STD to get better. I was confused, thinking it was about the acquired disease. Little did I know he was talking about something else, the most important thing for him to get better: Sipag. Tiyaga. Determinasyon. I was instantly amazed. The patients, or, our friends in the clinic were sincere when they wished us luck in our studies and even asked us to update them on our success. Fortunately, their blessing gave us luck and even more positive feedback.

In my attempt to contribute something to Philippine psychology, I chose to give my best in our study. And I can say I do not regret if I lost days of sleep. It was all worth it in the end. I was particularly touched when the panelists were able to feel the heart we put in our study, commenting that “We feel you put your heart in what you do. It’s evident in your paper.” I therefore conclude, STD is effective for success.

It is inevitable for a writer, in our case, thesis writers, to experience hardships throughout the writing process. However, in the end, what matters and what lasts is what one has gained from all those challenges, and what we were able to share with a small group in the society.

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